Travel Through Argentina on a Trip That Includes the Best of Buenos Aires and Salta
The editors of Travel + Leisure have teamed up with Black Tomato—a company known for securing insider experiences—on a series of one-of-a-kind journeys around the globe. Plus: the must-see experiences and sites in each destination that are so unique we’ve designated them our new wonders of the world.
Argentina offers a rich South American experience, from tango shows in Buenos Aires to the exceptionally well preserved Mesoamerican and Spanish-colonial architecture of our New World Wonder, Salta. You’ll see all of it on this trip, created with luxury travel experts Black Tomato. Plus, visit the home of a pottery-making family in the town of San Carlos, in the Calchaqui Valley. You’ll learn the process of turning clay into a ceramic piece that you can then tote home.
Read the full trip outline below, and when you're ready to speak to an expert, get in touch with our luxury travel partner, Black Tomato.
Day 1: Buenos Aires
Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, you’ll be met with a private transfer to your hotel, Legado Miticio, in the heart of the city. It’s an under-the-radar property set amidst the cobblestone streets of the bohemian Palermo neighborhood. Our favorite room is their gorgeous in-house library—an ideal spot to listen to some tango and sip a cocktail.
For dinner on your first night, head to El Mercado, which blends the energy of Buenos Aires’ legendary cantinas with the charm of Europe’s open-air markets. This warm, intimate space features the best of Argentinean cuisine prepared by Chef Emiliano Yulita in a traditional adobe oven. Exposed brick, rustic wooden tables, and antiques from the historic San Telmo district reflect Argentina’s rich cultural heritage.
Afterwards, grab a nightcap at Rojo Tango, a cabaret-like space designed by Phillippe Starck. The atmosphere here is full of fantasy and sensuality, and located inside the exclusive Faena Hotel.
Day 2: Buenos Aires
Today, you’ll take a six-hour private tour of Buenos Aires that’ll lead you down historic streets where cathedrals and plazas whisper the secrets of Argentina's past. Starting at the Plaza del Mayo, your guide will explain the significance of the city’s colonial architecture and follow in the footsteps of famous artists. The neighborhoods of San Telmo, La Boca, Puerto Madero, Retiro, and Recoleta are all included. The history and character of the first two locations will be complemented by the vitality of the latter destinations, and after your strolls, satisfy your appetite by dining at a traditional bodegon (neighborhood restaurant), which includes plenty of local Argentine wine. Afterwards, enjoy a private, outdoor tango performance in a nearby park, complete with a live bandoneon (similar to an accordian) player while enjoying a glass of champagne.
Day 3: Salta
In the morning, you’ll take a private air transfer north to Salta, which is still one of Argentina’s hidden treasures. The charms of this region are many: the architecture of its small towns, the traditions and customs present in its markets, its food, its music, and its religious festivities. It’s a mix of Pre-Columbian civilizations (and the southernmost outpost of the Inca Empire) with a Spanish colonial past, largely considered the best-preserved Spanish colonial city in Argentina. And with the Andes as a background, the landscape is breathtaking. Desert, cactus, high altitude salt lakes, llamas crossing the Puna (the grasslands)...all of it adds up to an incredible variety of colors, climates, and activities. The experience extends to your hotel, as well—the House of Jasmines sits at the foot of the Andes within over 200 acres of parkland. Its elegant, shabby-chic style gives it an upmarket ranch house feel, and it’s the perfect setting from which to take in the natural beauty of your surroundings.
Day 4: Salta
Salta’s urban character is marked by Spanish colonial-style houses and churches and framed by beautiful mountains. Today, we will visit the oldest part of the city, the Plaza 9 de Julio and its surroundings: Cathedral Basilica and the Cabildo, the Iglesia San Francisco and the San Bernardo Convent, which has a door that was carved by indigenous artists in 1762. The historic quarters preserve a large part of the Architectural Heritage. We’ll also visit the Museo de Arqueologia de Alta Montaña, where we will learn the history of the Llullaillaco expedition to this unique sanctuary in the mountains.
Then, it’s on to one of the most traditional buildings of the city: the local market. Here, you’ll find herbalists, fresh baked bread, spices and goat cheese from the Calchaquí Valley, fruits from all over the province, witchcraft paraphernalia, a butcher ́s court with different meat (including Llama, fish, pork and beef) and a food court selling traditional humitas, tamales, empanadas, and whatever salteños consider to be tasty that day.
After this visit to the oldest part of the city, we will continue to visit the western part of the valley, including the Village of San Lorenzo, an area traditionally sought out by the wealthiest families of Salta. San Lorenzo village is a short drive away from the city of Salta and the landscape changes enormously: the foothills of the mountains are very lush most of the year, and there are several places to walk in the surrounding areas. This is where we’ll have lunch or tea, depending on the time of day we visit, before returning back to the hotel.
Day 5: Lerma Valley and Calchaquí Valley
After breakfast today, leave Salta behind and drive south to the fertile Lerma Valley. We’ll drive through the breathtaking Quebrada de las Conchas, a protected area that’ll soon be added to Los Cardones National Park. The word quebrada translates as strong water erosion between the mountains that connect different ecological floors, and this quebrada is characterized by its breathtaking canyons, intense colors and spectacular geological formations.
Our cycling trip will include stops at interesting rock formations before gliding into the Calchaquí Valley, the most fertile part of the region during the colonial time. Cattle, spices, grains and wine were produced and transported by mules as far as the Atacama Desert in Chile. Today, Cafayate is the heart of Altitude Wine, with vines developing at 1,700 meters above sea level, which allows them to enhance their aroma and flavors.
Your hotel here is Grace Cafayate, set within the Calchaquí Valley on the sprawling estate, La Estancia de Cafayate, home to a number of quality winemakers. The 52 rooms and villas have views that stretch across the vineyards and neighbouring mountains, while tennis, horseback riding and bike rides are all available to guests.
Day 6: Calchaquí Valley
Today we will drive north to the town of San Carlos to meet with a local family who opens their home to visitors from around the world. They are excellent potters and will share their extensive experience and knowledge with us as we learn the process of turning clay into a ceramic piece (and you can take your creation home with you). After, we’ll cross the Rosario River for a trail ride. The horses will take us to an area known as Yungas, a band of narrow forest along the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains of Peru, Bolivia and northern Argentina. It is a transition zone between the Andean highlands and the eastern forests. Like the surrounding areas, the Yungas belong to the neotropical ecozone. The weather is rainy, humid and warm.
Day 7: Calchaquí Valley, Colomé, and Cachi
This morning, we depart after breakfast on a drive through the Calchaquí Valley, stopping in San Carlos to view the preserved colonial architecture (mostly consisting of adobe brick, cane roofing and humble little white churches that still remain today as a silent witness of both the Inca and Spanish). After, we’ll drive through the contrasting Quebrada de las Flechas (The Arrow Ravine) a landscape that has been carved through with intense water and wind erosion over thousands of years. Then, we’ll visit a few cattle farms such as Angostura and El Carmen, which are reminiscent to the old colonial production the valley once had. In early 1800 this valley would silage hundreds of cows and adventurous gauchos would take them from the Calchaquí Valley into the Atacama Desert in Chile. This was a trip that could take up to two months and could only be done in the milder times of summer.
Our next stop is the oasis of Colomé, which is not only a place to visit for wine, but also to learn about the area’s ancient culture. After lunch and a visit to the local museum, we will continue to the town of Seclantás. This area of the valley is known for its male tradition of weaving. Huge wooden, open-sky looms lay between hay roofs and dirt floors, where men loom more than eight hours a day to produce ponchos and shawls resembling the wardrobe used in colonial times. The tradition still remains today and we’ll be able to learn how they dye, spindle and loom. After visiting the Teleros, we will drive for less than an hour into the town of Cachi to check-into your hotel, La Merced del Alto. It features a regal adobe building that mirrors a centuries-old Spanish Colonial hacienda. Inside the cloistered, whitewashed rooms, you’ll find the perfect indigenous design: terra-cotta floors, woven rugs and embroidered wall hangings, hand-hammered silver chandeliers and soaring cane ceilings.
Day 8: Cachi
Today we will drive up the foothills of Nevado de Cachi, the most important mountain in the Calchaquí Valleys and marvel at its beauty. The area of Cachi is known because of its production of peppers, cumin and other balsamic herbs and has been an agricultural area since the pre-Inca times. After a short drive we will visit a local boutique winery: altitude vines are the hot spot on wine business at the moment. Altitude enhances the characteristics of grapes: the evening drop off in temperature allows more aromatic berries to grow whilst sunny days will raise the sugar content, giving very high alcohol gradation. This is an excellent area to grow malbec, merlot and torrontés. We will visit a winery where we will learn about the advantages of altitude grapes and then visit another farm for lunch.
In the afternoon we visit a local craftsman, who will teach us to prepare the wool to make the garments and the use of artisan techniques.
Day 9: Calchaquí Valley
Today we will visit the northern part of the Calchaquí Valley, including the Graneros de la Poma, a new UNESCO protected area, a unique place rich in history and lots of chances to learn about the local lifestyle. Then, we drive over 15,000 feet above the sea level to one of the highest passes in the country, the Abra Del Acay. This amazing winding cornice will take us very close to the Acay Mountain and into the puna. Puna is the Quechua word for high-altitude desert. This plateau is one of the most isolated and remote areas of Argentina. We’ll have lunch at the town of San Antonio de los Cobres, and in the afternoon continue driving north to Salinas Grandes and Cuesta de Lipan. This is another winding road that takes us up high before descending from the clouds into Purmamarca, where we can marvel at the mountains.
Our hotel is the Manantial del Silencio with draws upon Spanish colonial influences to create a relaxing atmosphere set against a stunning backdrop. The building was designed by the architect Mariano Sepúlveda (a specialist in Spanish colonial structures). In 1985, he was granted the Nobleman’s Cross by the Royal Order of Isabel la Católica for his work in Spanish colonial style in the country. It is tastefully decorated with objects belonging to historical families from the north of Argentina.
Day 10: Tilcara
We’ll take a drive to Tilcara for a hike, accompanied by a group of llamas, eventually winding up at Dupont Winery, the most important winery in Quebrada de Humahuaca. The farm has five different terroirs located at different altitudes, with different grapes, including Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Here, we will walk through the vines, taste some wine, and enjoy lunch while spending time learning how to prepare delicious regional dishes.
Day 11: Cerro de los Siete Colores
This morning, set off on a walking tour of the town of Purmamarca and its unique Paseo de los Colorados trail. The gentle hike meanders behind the hill known as Cerro de los Siete Colores (Seven Color Hill), a zigzagging route without slopes. The arid landscape here is both dramatic and beautiful. After, you’ll have a private transfer to Salta airport for the flight to Buenos Aires.
Check-into Legado Mitico for one night before your morning flight home.
From $7,900 per person for eleven days. To enquire about this trip with Black Tomato, click below.